Energy and Environment
Rapid growth of fracking — and thus frac sand mining — has sparked environmental and aesthetic concerns in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Northeast Iowa. What long-term issues lie beneath this prized sand, and what steps can Iowa communities take to be vigilant about what is best for them?
Aaron KlineRead our policy brief by Aaron Kline and David Osterberg. 1/30/14. NEW!
Also:
executive summary

news release
blog post by Aaron Kline

Hear Iowa Environmental Focus report by Jerry Schnoor of the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (1 minute, 17 seconds)


Dealing with Climate Change: Bring Investor-Owned Utilities into Solution
Climate change is a reality and the investor-owned utility companies must adjust their business model to contend with it.
Read statement by IPP's David Osterberg to the Iowa Utilities Board. 2/25/14 NEW!
Read excerpt on our Iowa Policy Points blog. 2/25/14

wetland
Cleaning the Water: How Cities Use Wetlands to Manage Runoff
No matter the source — the countryside or urban development — cities in Iowa are showing they have ways to manage runoff and ease pollution of the state's waterways.
Read our report. 10/30/13
Full report with How-To Guide. 35-pg PDF 10/30/13


Finding a Path to Clean Water in Iowa
A good discussion about the facts underlying strategies to achieve clean water in Iowa. And yes, funding for environmental enforcement does matter.

david osterberg“Not every state gets nailed by the local region of the EPA to say, ‘You're not doing your job.’” — IPP's David Osterberg

Hear Osterberg with Mike Devine on the "Devine Intervention" program on KVFD-AM 1400, Fort Dodge 9/25/13

MidAm Wind Announcement Boosts Iowa's Leadership
“The announcement that MidAmerican Energy Company will install more than another thousand megawatts of wind power is great news.”
Read our statement from IPP Executive Director David Osterberg. 5/8/13

Iowa Electricity Prices Stay Lower than U.S. Average
Opponents of expanding renewable energy often claim that new, safe and clean electricity is all very nice but it just costs too much. Let’s look at the data.
Read our policy snapshot. 3/18/13
Hear IPP's David Osterberg discuss this issue with KVFD's Mike Devine on "The Devine Intervention" 3/20/13

More Happy Returns? A New ‘Bottle Bill’ percent containers recycled graph
For the past 35 years many beverages sold in the state of Iowa have included a container deposit of 5 cents to encourage recycling of glass, specific plastic and cans. More containers would be covered under legislation that still might be considered in the 2013 session of the General Assembly.
Read IPP Backgrounder. 5/2/13

‘Talk is Cheap’ — Clean Water, Not So Much
There are three principal problems with the Governor’s proposed Nutrient Reduction Strategy, and they can be summed up in three words: Talk is cheap.
Read David Osterberg's statement on Iowa Policy Points 11/20/12

In remarks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, IPP's David Osterberg explains why federal oversight is essential to monitor water-quality efforts by Iowa's Department of Natural Resources.
Read our letter to EPA or download 2-page PDF 10/18/12

Readlyn, Fairbank Combine to Win Get Energized Iowa!
Simple ideas and common sense translated into big energy savings for residents of Readlyn and Fairbank as the two Northeast Iowa towns’ energy-reduction efforts earned their school a new solar system.

“As we said all along, this isn’t just an academic exercise, and the efforts in these communities can show other communities how it’s done.”
— IPP's David Osterberg


Read news release online or as a two-page PDF. 2/6/13

A two-day bike ride drew attention to the ongoing Get Energized Iowa competition among four participating towns — Dike, Fairbank, Hudson and Readlyn — to promote energy conservation and a commitment to renewable energy.

Former UI and NFL star Tim Dwight and other renewable energy advocates participated during the two days. Click here for details.
Kickoff news release for 2012 competition.
Read the news release or download 12-page PDF 2/8/12
Visit the Get Energized Iowa! website

Energy Efficiency: Making a Game of It
A little friendly competition can prove to be useful in getting Iowans to save energy.
Read report or download 8-page PDF 6/2/11
Read news release or Will Hoyer's Iowa Policy Points post

"There’s another side of the expensive energy equation: Using less. Changing your behavior, even without greatly compromising your lifestyle." — The Gazette, Cedar Rapids — Sunday, June 5, editorial

Iowa's Commitment in Question: Water Quality Funding
Iowa lawmakers took few strides in 2012 toward catching up on long-missed funding commitments to priority Iowa issues, including water quality.
Read Water Quality backgrounder 6/26/12
Read news release


Drops in the Bucket: The Erosion of Iowa Water Quality Funding
Iowa lawmakers are $5 million behind water-quality funding trends of the last decade, despite greater needs for water protection and public willingness to fund it.
Read our report or download 9-page PDF 3/1/12
Read our news release

Advice Ignored: Climate Change and Iowa Water Quality Policy
There has been no shortage of ideas for how Iowa can deal with the reality of climate change through public policy that could relieve flooding issues that cause damage not only due to water quantity, but water quality as well. There has, however, been a shortage of action.
Read our report or download 10-page PDF 5/21/12
Read our news release or download 2-page PDF
See also Will Hoyer's blog post on Iowa Policy Points

2008 flood Iowa City
Water Quality: Challenges and Opportunities for Watershed Policy in Iowa

Wetlands provide an important anti-pollution role in Iowa's environment, and benefit wildlife habitat as well, but well-intentioned wetland restorations do not always produce the best results.
Read our report 24-page PDF 5/10/12
Read our executive summary 2-page PDF
Read our news release

Clean Water: Can Different Strategies Co-Exist?

Lots of money and Iowa water quality are at stake in a new initiative from the state. It needs time to work.
Read report or download 15-page PDF 6/22/11
Read executive summary or download 2-page PDF
Read news release or Will Hoyer's blog post on Iowa Policy Points

"This initiative shows promise to benefit both farmers and water quality. But until we see the numbers in a few years we need to withhold judgment." — Will Hoyer, IPP Research Associate

Touring the State to Show Iowa's Potential in Solar Energy, Solar Jobs

Former Iowa and NFL star Tim Dwight joined local solar industry leaders and advocates for a four-city tour to show how Iowans already are capitalizing on solar power.
Read news release or download (2-page PDF) 3/25/11

Iowa could create thousands of new jobs and economic benefits with solar power.
Report (18-page PDF) Revised 3/10/11
Read news release or download (2-page PDF)
"This is the right time for Iowa to strike. Everyone is looking for a way to create jobs, and the solar industry is a good investment here in Iowa." — Solar developer and former NFL star Tim Dwight


Solution to Pollution: It Starts on the Farm

Farm practices are the central source of applied pollutants in Iowa waterways, and policy measures need to focus on agriculture, Iowa researchers say.
Report (9-page PDF) 9/27/10
Read news release or download (2-page PDF)
"It is not an urban issue. It is an agricultural issue, period." — IPP Executive Director David Osterberg


Green Bike Tour logo Renewable Lessons from Slovenia interviewGBT2010

Iowans are heading home after completing the eighth Green Bike Tour, a seven-day exchange of ideas between Europeans and Americans about renewable energy.
Tour PreviewRider BiosDay 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6
Day 7 Conclusion

SAVING Energy to Improve Iowa's Economy and Environment
Green Recovery: How Weatherization Works for Iowans

At the same time the federal economic recovery package is boosting income and the number of jobs for Iowa workers, it is improving energy-savings opportunities for Iowa families who cannot otherwise afford them.
Full Report, PDF (7 pages) 5/20/10
News Release, HTML or PDF (2 pages)

Making Efficiency Options More Accessible to Low-Income Families

One of the best ways to reduce Iowa's energy consumption is to make energy efficiency improvements to homes — a solution that unfortunately is unaffordable for most low-income Iowa families, who often live in energy-inefficient housing and struggle with high energy bills.
Full Report, PDF (12 pages) 5/6/10
Executive Summary, HTML or PDF (2 pages)
News Release, PDF (2 pages)

PRODUCING Energy to Improve Iowa's Economy and Environment
Think Wind Power — Think 'Iowa' Graph on Iowa wind power growth, 1998-2009

Iowa has tremendous opportunity to expand on its emergence as a world leader in wind-energy production.
IPP Policy Brief, 4 pages (PDF) 3/3/10
News Release, 2 pages (PDF)

"Claims that these sustainable, clean options are too costly just don't hold up."
— IPP Director David Osterberg

Strategies Need Support of Strong Pollution Limits to Succeed
New Report Cites Lessons from Midwest Projects to Reduce Ag Pollution

Initiatives to address water quality problems need to be backed by enforceable and sufficiently strong requirements that limit pollution, Iowa State University researchers say.
Full Report (PDF, 16 pg) 1/13/09
Executive Summary (PDF, 2 pg)
News Release (HTML)
Teresa Galluzzo's blog post "Move Now to Improve Iowa's Lousy Water Quality"

Pond Scum — Looking Beneath the Surface of Iowa Waters
Dealing with Cyanobacteria (or Blue-Green Algae) and the Impact of Excess Nutrients

State policy has left Iowa waterways open to contamination by bacteria resulting from phosphorus and other nutrients in runoff from both farm fields and urban sources.
Full Report (PDF, 13 pg) 12/17/09
Executive Summary (PDF, 4 pg)
News Release (PDF, 2 pg)

Information for Copenhagen Climate Discussions
Climate Policies Can Be Fair and Iowa Can Offer the World Solutions

Leaders and citizens from around the world are meeting in Denmark this week and next to discuss climate change. Climate policies must protect all citizens and Iowa can provide some good examples for how to address climate change.
Backgrounder (PDF, 2 pg) 12/8/09

The Sweet Smell of Water Pollution
Addressing Organic Wastewater Contaminants in Iowa's Water

Sweet smells may mask potential hazards delivered from cologne, perfume or shampoo washed down the drain. These organic wastewater contaminants are ignored by environmental regulation that has not kept pace with industry's drive to promote personal products.
Full Report (PDF, 15 pg) 12/1/09
Executive Summary (PDF, 4 pg)
News Release (PDF, 2 pg)

Climate Policy: Sorting Through Factual Smog
IUB Inquiry is Opportunity to Find Facts in Cap-and-Trade Debate

Iowa energy policy analysts say a thorough review by the Iowa Utilities Board is needed in its upcoming inquiry to determine impacts of the climate change legislation in Congress.
News release (PDF, 2 pg) 7/16/09
IUB Notice of Inquiry (PDF, 10 pg)

Proposals in Congress Do Provide for Relief to Consumers

Cap-and-trade policy being crafted in Congress to respond to global climate change does include features to protect households budgets. Good policy will assure direct relief to low-income households and not rely on utilities to deliver the benefits.
Backgrounder (PDF, 2 pg) 6/25/09
News release (PDF, 2 pg) Consumers deserve a more accurate and more complete discussion of the elements of the legislation on the table than they're getting from utility executives. Independent analysts at the Congressional Budget Office and Environmental Protection Agency illustrate how relief provisions can help consumers.

Consumer-Friendly Energy Conservation
Electric Rate Reform Could Spur Energy Savings, Help Low-Income Iowans

Electricity rates can be better structured to encourage conservation while at the same time help low-income Iowans more easily afford their home energy bills.
Full report (PDF, 8 pg) 6/17/09
Executive summary (PDF, 3 pg)
News release (PDF, 2 pg) HTML

Smart Energy Use: Stimulus Funds Can Help

Federal Boost Offers Iowa an Opportunity for Now and Future
Iowa stands to gain about $170 million in energy-related funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with big boosts for weatherization and other energy-efficiency strategies. How best to use it?
Full report (PDF, 11 pg) Revised 5/21/09
Executive summary (PDF, 2 pg) Revised
News release (PDF)
Iowa Now a World Leader in Wind Energy Production
Analysis Shows Electricity Generation in State Now Up to 15 Percent

Right before Iowans’ eyes, green-power generation already has reached levels only dreamed about 10 years ago, thanks to the growing use of wind power. Estimates by the Iowa Utilities Board now indicate wind fuels about 15 percent of the electricity generated in Iowa — up from the 5 percent level estimated in 2006. Full Report (4 pg). (PDF) News Release. (PDF) 4/13/09

A Fresh Look at Water in Iowa Detail of Stacy Schlader's 1st-place photo
In Pictures, Prose and Poetry, Iowans Show Their Passion for Clean Water

Iowa’s water quality has the spotlight and nine winners have the honors in an essay and photo contest sponsored by the IPP. News release (PDF) and Winning entries (PDF). 1/22/09

FIRST-PLACE WINNERS:

• John Pearson, Indianola, long essay

• Dr. Steve Rose, Indianola, short essay/poetry

• Stacy Schlader, Lancaster, Mo., photo from Story County

Permitting Pigs
Ways to Repair Iowa's CAFO Approval Process

Iowa can get on a path toward cleaner water by making changes to the current permit process for concentrated animal feeding operations. Report and news release. 11/19/08

Setting Tax Policy for Fairness and Sustainability
Ripples from a Revenue Stream: Effects of a 3/8-Cent Tax Increase for Natural Resources

Too often in the past, natural resources funding has lost out to state budget cuts or has been raided to pay for other public programs. Any sustainable funding source to correct this problem should also be fair to all Iowa taxpayers How can this be designed? Backgrounder. 11/12/08

Climate Change and Public Policy
IPP's David Osterberg discussed climate-change policy on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Journal" program. Spring 2008

Growing Green: Policy and Progress in Iowa

Renewable Energy Expansion Isn't an Accident

Public policy has made a difference in the growing development of renewable energy. IPP's David Osterberg explains why in this short documentary by the University of Iowa's Soheil Rezayazdi.

Energy Efficiency: Iowa Can Strive to Lead Nationally
Iowa falls short on its energy efficiency goals, and its potential. Full report, executive summary and news release

The Green Bike Tour Rides Again — News release 10/22/08
Climate Policy Can Protect Low-Income Iowans — News release 6/9/08
Energy and environment reports published from 2001 to 2006 were made possible, in part, with generous support from The Joyce Foundation. Newer reports were supported in part by The McKnight Foundation.
July 16, 2008
Energy Efficiency and Iowa's Economy
Improving Iowa's Utility-Run Energy Efficiency Programs

Saving money on energy means more is available for other things — and that’s a boost to the Iowa economy. When the state is in a rebuilding mode, are business leaders and policy makers paying attention? Report and news release.

March 19, 2008
Let's Be Number One
Improving Iowa's Utility-Run Energy Efficiency Programs

Iowa's long tradition of energy efficiency is a significant accomplishment. However, Iowa is not meeting some of its stated efficiency goals, nor its potential to be the national leader in energy efficiency. Read the full report, executive summary and news release.

March 17, 2008
Iowa's Bottle Bill Turning 30
Shall We Celebrate It — and Improve It?

This St. Patrick's Day is a great time to think about one of Iowa's landmark "green" laws. Let's raise a beverage container of our choice to celebrate our Bottle Bill's 30th Birthday. Read the backgrounder for recommended improvements to our beverage container act.

Jan. 23, 2008
A Climate Policy Challenge
Iowa's Climate Responses Need to Consider Low-Income Families

State policies to combat climate change must assure fair treatment of low-income families so that they don't bear a disproportionate share of the cost of reducing carbon emissions. "This is a time for innovation, not just in ways to cope with climate change, but in finding ways to help Iowa's low-income families cope with our solutions," says IPP's David Osterberg. Read the full report, two-page executive summary and news release.

Nov. 27, 2007
Gambling with Iowa's Soil and Water
Soil Funding Erodes - and on Shaky Ground
Iowa is underfunding efforts to improve water quality and reduce soil erosion, at the same time it is staking these environmental and economic priorities on gambling revenues. Read the press release, executive summary or full report.
October 18, 2007
Hog CAFOs and Sustainability
The Impact on Local Development and Water Quality in Iowa
A new study examining local impacts of increasing hog confinement operations across Iowa raises questions about their local development benefits. "In certain parts of Iowa, the lost opportunities may have been substantial," said Jan Flora, lead author of the new report. Read the Press Release, Executive Summary and Full Report.
August 9, 2007
Managing Iowa Stormwater for Quantity and Quality
Stormwater management in Iowa needs a fresh focus on water quality, not just coping with the volume running off our streets, rooftops and landscaped lawns, according to a new report. Read the Press Release, Backgrounder and Full Report.
April 10, 2007
More Iowa Schools Could Be Wind Power Producers
The 2007 legislative session has before it many proposals to help Iowa achieve energy independence. One area where Iowa has particular potential is that more of our schools could become producers of renewable energy and employ energy efficiency measures. Read the Backgrounder.
April 10, 2007
Policy Needed to Grow Local Food Systems
Iowans' interest in purchasing food grown closer to home has recently increased. To continue the growth of local food systems, Iowa's leaders need to be progressive in implementing polices that encourage their development. In particular, efforts could be expanded in Iowa's schools. Read the Backgrounder.
February 6, 2007
Iowa's Local Food Systems: A Place to Grow
There is enormous potential for food to be grown, processed and consumed in Iowa. This report presents several ways policy makers could benefit Iowans by encouraging local food systems. Read the Press Release, Executive Summary and Full Report.
December 13, 2006
Investing in Iowa's Environment
Budget Trends 1997-2006
The state's natural resources have not been treated as a vital part of the budget and there has not been adequate funding to meet Iowa's environmental challenges. Read the Press Release, Executive Summary and Full Report.
April 19, 2006
Chemicals of Concern
Iowa's First Field Research Area for Emerging Contaminants
Many unregulated compounds, such as prescription drugs, hormones, cosmetics, dyes, preservatives, and detergents, are present in Iowa's water and may cause detrimental effects to humans and wildlife. Read the Press Release, Executive Summary, and Full Report.
March 7, 2006
Wind Power and Iowa Schools
Ten Iowa schools have installed wind turbines so they can spend less on electricity bills and more on students. They have also reduced their environmental impact and are providing their students with the opportunity to learn about the fastest growing energy source in the world. Read the Full Report and Press Release and view a Map of the Schools.
October 7, 2005
Ecological Wastewater Management in Iowa
Hope for Iowa's Small Communities
Ecological wastewater treatment technologies can address water pollution and be more affordable than conventional approaches for communities without sewer systems and for communities that need additional treatment. Read the Press Release, Executive Summary and Full Report.
April 19, 2005
Facts about Iowa’s Bottle Bill
Iowa’s bottle deposit law, popularly known as the “Bottle Bill,” has expanded Iowans’ consciousness about litter and recycling. Read the fact sheets: (1) Environmental Impact, (2) Economic Impact, and (3) Need for Update.
April 14, 2005
Small Packages, Big Benefits
Economic Advantages of Local Wind Projects
Small-scale, locally owned wind power projects allow the state, our communities and landowners to reap the greatest benefits. Read the Full Report and Press Release.
April 6, 2005
Concentrating on Clean Water
The Challenge of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
Large-scale animal livestock confinement operations generate costs that must be addressed through public policies to protect producers, consumers and the environment. Read the Press Release, Executive Summary and Full Report.
March 22, 2005
Saving Iowa's Ag Land Tax Dollars for Conservation
A property tax credit is available to nonresident landowners who don’t pay Iowa taxes and are not actively involved in farming. Iowa lawmakers should consider proposals to tighten the tax credit and free dollars for conservation education. Read the Full Report.
January 4, 2005
In Defense of Clean Water
How Iowa and Its Neighbors Protect Watersheds
Better stewardship of water resources could boost Iowa's economy. Read the Press Release, Executive Summary and Full Report.
September 20, 2004
Effectively Using the Clean Water SRF to Improve Iowa Water Quality
Iowa's Clean Water State Revolving Fund program has the flexibility and financial resources to improve Iowa's water quality. Read the Executive Summary and Full Report.
April 1, 2004
Environmental Protection in a Recessionary Economy
How did funding for Iowa's natural resources fare in comparison to Minnesota's and Missouri's during the 2001 national recession? Read the Full Report.
October 1, 2003
Wind Power and the Iowa Economy
Iowans could promote cleaner air and a more sound economy by encouraging the wind-energy industry through public policy. Read the Executive Summary; Press Release; and Full Report
May 9, 2003
Environment, Recreation and Employee Recruitment in Iowa
What could tip the scales for someone choosing a job in Iowa or another state? This report suggests that it may be a bike trail or clear streams. Read the Full Report.
April 25, 2003
Renewable Power and Energy Efficiency: Policies in Iowa and Other States
Iowa has several policy options to encourage greater use of renewable power and energy efficiency. Read the Press Release, Executive Summary and Full Report
March 5, 2002
Economic Values of Alternative Energy Sources and Energy Conservation
Iowa's economy could benefit enormously from more renewable energy projects. Read the Full ReportExecutive Summary, and Press Release.
The Green Bike Tour

Visit the The Green Bike Tour website, an Iowa Policy Project-sponsored event to bring attention to sustainable energy in Iowa.

View the I.C. Gazette cartoon by Joe Sharpnack.